Sexual Violence and Exploitation

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Sexual violence and exploitation is more common than you may think, with many victims remaining silent about the abuse they have suffered.

The official statistics (which are under-reported) show that an average of 4% of women (10,232 women in County Durham and Darlington) have been raped (this excludes attempted rape).

23% of women and 3% of men experience sexual assault as an adult.

Sexual violence and exploitation causes severe and lifelong harm to victims.

A profile commissioned to understand the extent of sexual violence in County Durham and Darlington Constabulary area found:

  • There are around 120 rapes and 300 other instances of sexual violence recorded each year (this is under-reported).
  • County Durham and Darlington perform well against other areas of the country for both detection and conviction rates.
  • There is often a delay in reporting, with most rapes being categorised as ‘historic’ (reported after 7 days of the offence taking place). In some cases several years had passed before a report was made.
  • Victims tend to know their offender, stranger rapes are very rare
  • In many cases victims are some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society, including children, women in abusive relationships and individuals with learning disabilities.
  • In 2010, there were 25 investigations about the use of social networking sites to contact and groom children. In 2011, the number of  investigations are increasing

There are key achievements already made in Durham and Darlington to date, which include:

  • the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) which is jointly funded by the Police, the NHS and Durham and Darlington Councils
  • the ongoing support for the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) role 
  • the high conviction rate when compared to the rest of the country.

Despite significant progress that has been made, more can be done to protect our community and reduce harm.

In August 2011, The Sexual Violence Strategy 2011-2014 was launched, which incorporates the vision of both the Safer Darlington and Safe Durham Partnerships: that sexual violence and exploitation will not be tolerated.

The strategy aims to improve how we can prevent sexual violence; how we ensure appropriate provision of services to survivors to support their needs; and ensure victims are protected by ensuring offenders are brought to justice.

It has been developed with input from a range of partners and stakeholders and both Darlington and Durham partnerships will work together.